HENLEY, Sir Robert (1631-92), of the Grange, Northington, Hants.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1690-1715, ed. D. Hayton, E. Cruickshanks, S. Handley, 2002
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Oct. 1679 - Jan. 1681
16 Nov. 1691 - 15 Dec. 1692

Family and Education

b. 1631, 2nd s. of Robert Henley of Henley, Som. and Soper Lane, London, chief clerk of Kb 1629–?d., by his 2nd w. Anne, da. of John Eldred of Saxmundham, Suff.; bro. of Andrew Henley†.  educ. M. Temple 1634, called 1651, associate bencher 1663.  m. (1) ?1658, ?Catherine Jonson; (2) lic. 11 Feb. 1663, Catherine, da. of Sir Anthony Hungerford† of Blackbourton, Oxon., sis. of Sir Edward Hungerford*, 1s. 2da.; (3) 1 Sept. 1674, Barbara (d. 1727), da. of John Every of Wootton Glanville, Dorset and coh. to her bro. John Every†, 2s. 3da.  Kntd. 9 June 1663.1

Offices Held

Prothonotary of Kb by 1662–d.; conservator, Bedford level 1666–9.2


Although he was a younger son, Henley’s inheritance and the profits of his office in the King’s bench enabled him to transform himself into a wealthy country squire, a social class whose interests he frequently represented in Parliament. Returned at a by-election for the county in 1691, Henley immediately became very active. He spoke against the East India Company on 27 Nov. and on 6 Feb. 1692 in favour of an address to the King for the company’s dissolution. On 2 Dec. 1691 he was first-named to the second-reading committee on the bill to prevent deer stealing, subsequently managing the bill through the Commons. On 16 Dec. he opposed the bill to register servants sent to the plantations, on the grounds that ‘this bill pretends to prevent kidnapping, but if this pass into a law it will establish kidnapping by a law. It is a pretence only to establish an office for Mr Thompson [Francis*, Henry* or William*].’ On the same day he acted as a teller against passing the bill. The next year he chaired the committee on Irish forfeitures appointed on 1 Jan. 1693 and reported from it on the 17th. On 2 Jan. he was a teller for reducing the number of dragoons in Ireland. On 8 and 23 Jan. he supported, both as speaker and teller, the bill for lessening the interest on loans, which was principally promoted by Country Whigs concerned for land values. On 12 Jan. he spoke against setting up a committee to consider government proposals to pay the debt owed to the bankers as well as raising money for the war by way of loans from the bankers and the East India Company; and on 18 Jan. seconded Richard Hampden I’s motion for a bill to stop any legal proceedings on the bankers’ claims, in order to have an inquiry into the exact debt. He opposed the bill for suppressing hawkers and pedlars on 16 Jan., spoke on 19 Jan. in favour of a low poll tax, and the following day against a land tax, suggesting instead a tax on coach-owners. He also opposed the bill concerning water supply at St. Paul’s Shadwell at its third reading on 20 Feb. He spoke on the 22nd for the bill enabling Quakers to affirm their loyalty to the government by ‘solemn answers’ rather than taking the oaths. On the same day he offered a clause to the bill confirming the charters of the University of Cambridge that would protect the interests of Sir John Bolles, 4th Bt.*3

In the next session, on 11 Nov. 1692, Henley spoke for Hon. Goodwin Wharton’s motion to thank Admiral Edward Russell* for his conduct of the fleet. On 18 Nov. he helped substantiate Sir Thomas Clarges’* account of the ‘lewdness and debauchery’ of a clergyman named Samuel Rich, who, having been arrested, claimed rights of privilege as a ‘menial servant’ to an MP, Sir John Guise, 2nd Bt. Shortly after this on 15 Dec., Henley died, and was buried at Northington. Accounted a man of ‘good sense and economy’, he left his family a substantial inheritance. His three surviving sons, Anthony, John and Robert, all sat in the Commons.4

Ref Volumes: 1690-1715

Authors: Paula Watson / Sonya Wynne


  • 1. Hutchins, Dorset, iii. 742; N. and Q. ser. 10, ix. 141–3; CSP Dom. 1629–31, p. 103; PCC 129 Berkeley; Soc. of Geneal. Boyd’s mar. index; London Mar. Lic. ed. Foster, 668; Soc. of Geneal. Wootton Glanville par. reg.
  • 2. CSP Dom. 1661–2, p. 345; S. Wells, Drainage of Bedford Level, i. 457.
  • 3. PCC 129 Berkeley; VCH Hants, iii. 395, 396; iv. 154, 196, 204, 374; Luttrell Diary, 46, 83, 106, 117, 125, 132, 136, 141, 145, 150, 166, 175, 191, 196, 198, 200.
  • 4. Luttrell Diary, 219, 238; W. L. W. Wyre, Hist. Swarraton and Northington, 29; Le Neve, Persons who Died in 1711, 532; PCC 9 Coker.